PA Leadership Series: John Bielinski, PA-C

This is the first of several interviews as part of our PA Leadership blog series. Over the next few weeks, we will be posting Q&A interviews with PAs who have shown leadership within our profession. These include entrepreneurs, business owners, directors, educators and many other titles. Each person who participated is passionate about what they do and are great examples of just how variable the PA profession can be.

John Bielinski, PA-C

When I realized I was interested in a leadership role as a PA, I did the same thing we all do- I went online to see what resources I could find. Sadly, I quickly found there were very few courses and resources for the PA who wants to take the next step in their career. However, during my search, I kept coming across today’s Q&A guest, John Bielinski. He was everywhere I looked, youtube and other social media, as well as CME recertification courses and PANRE review courses. He was omnipresent, but more importantly, he had a TON of free PA specific content, including PANCE/PANRE review topics.

I started watching his youtube videos, and listened to some of his podcasts, one of which really resonated with me:

The topic of PA happiness has been on my mind a lot lately and so I’ve actually revisited this video several times. Success as a PA is something that is very important to me, and John’s message is, in my opinion, some of the most important and yet least addressed concepts in medicine, happiness.

John actually was very gracious and reached out to me through Facebook, so I thought it was an excellent time to ask a million (or just nine) questions pertaining to his leadership experience.

1. Tell us a little about yourself, where you went to school, and how long you have been in practice.

I have been a PA for 20 years, I went to Kings College. I did not do well in high school, I was a really struggled student. But I went into the Marine Corp, spent four years in the Marines and quite frankly learned different techniques of learning, and learned about hard work and certain dedication to tasks.

So I went to Kings college, I loved it. I spent last the 20 years full-time up until about three years ago where I was Emergency Medicine, Critical Care and Hospitalist. And my business, I found a passion for teaching. I started initially with a business in medical malpractice review. So I did some chronologies and worked with a couple different attorneys and then about 15 years ago I started teaching ACLS and I started teaching at two different PA schools her in Buffalo and then I opened a business to do CME to educate people.

And so I started my business CME for Life, 8 years ago out of my basement that has really mushroom clouded, and we focus on emergency medicine, urgent care, and board preparation. And with that, we purchased another company called American Medical Seminars, its out of Sarasota Florida. So, that runs 21 conferences per year. We’re increasing it to 27 per year and that’s primarily a physician target market.

I have a business called the Emergency Medicine Institute where I run some conferences, and I love it.

2. What is your role as a leader, business owner, entrepreneur and what does your typical day look like?

Well, I am the visionary of my business, which means I’m the big picture thinker. I have a CEO who is my integrator. So my role as leader is to look at, predict the future and be in charge primarily of our culture, and our core values. I am very involved with business both for the University of Buffalo, I’m a member of their Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and I work with businesses there and I’m a member of an organization called Entrepreneurs Organization where we are constantly looking to better our game network. Its a great organization.

My typical day, when I’m not on the lecture circuit, I’m looking at social media, content management, holding people accountable for tasks and duties. But when I’m on the road, I’ll do a board review course from 7:30 in the morning until at times 7:30 at night so I’m really pretty busy lecturing which I’m absolutely passionate and love to do.

3. Do you divide your time into clinical and administrative tasks? Or if not in clinical how do you divide your time as a business owner?

One of the cool things I say about being an entrepreneur is its the only job that you give up a 40 hour work week to work 80 hours so I’m always working. But I always love it. My time is really delineated into immediacy or time sensitivity and then long-term tasks so it really kind of depends. Today I worked on some personal work for 90 minutes at the coffee shop, then I had some administrative meetings for 90 minutes to include updating the websites, looking at some strategic vision, and implementing some tasks to some of the wonderful people that work for me.

4. Did you pursue a leadership role or was it offered to you?

Well I was offered a leadership role as a lead PA at Niagara Falls Memorial Hospital which I really enjoyed. It was interesting to see some of the junior PA’s and how they behaved and it was a mirror of how I acted and behaved at certain points of my career. But within my own business, I became a leader by necessity. I had to be the visionary and direct the course of where we were going. Make sure that we didn’t take on tasks that were against our core values or our primary purposes. So I was offered a leadership role, but within my own business clearly I’m my own leader.

5. How did you prepare for your role? Did you take any leadership courses? Are there any courses you recommend?

I prepared for it early on. During my drive times, I always listened to leadership literature like Stephen Covey or Dale Carnegie’s or Anthony Robbins. So I started preparing for this even when I was in PA school. I was always trying to fill my head with thinking literature that made me a better person. I was very big on Jim Collins. So if you have not read Jim Collins Good to Great, or Great by Choice, it’s absolutely mandatory.

Did I take any leadership courses? I took a bunch of them. I took A Date with Destiny with Anthony Robbins, Unlimited Power with Anthony Robbins, I took the Dale Carnegie Leadership Effectiveness Program. And then within Entrepreneurs Organization we’re constantly looking at leadership. And remember Jim Collins and he said this what’s called a level 5 leadership, this is the best leadership principles and the best leaders have two principles. Number one is his fierce determination and the second one is this ridiculous level of humility and I don’t think that’s me. I don’t think I’m a level 5, I think I’m a level 4, I’ve very determined but I think that my humility could take some polishing.

Are there any courses you would recommend? Yes there’s a business mastery program by Anthony Robbins. Its very expensive but I highly recommend it. It is kind of like you’ll get and MBA in 7-10 days. I highly recommend it.

6. Do you have any room or opportunities to grow in your current leadership position?

Because its my business I have growth within the business and related fields. So like right now I’m very involved with teaching medicine but I want to start getting involved with teaching other content, like business content. So within my domain, growth is limited to my vision. I also know that growth, you need to be careful of that. Businesses that grow too quickly can outrun their resources and have a lot of inefficiencies so I’m looking for a 20% growth within the next 12 months and then 12% growth annually after that.

7. Are you satisfied with your position? If you could would you do it all over again?

I love it. I love, love, love being a PA. I love being an entrepreneur and I love being the teacher. In Stephen Covey’s first book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, its like Dubin of leadership. You have to read that book. But he also had a book called The Eighth Habit and that’s from effectiveness to greatness, how to find your voice and inspire others to find yours. And he talked about our four birth gifts- our intelligences. We have physical intelligence, emotional intelligence, mental intelligence, and spiritual intelligence. And when you can overlap all of them and find something that meets all of those needs then you’ve found your voice and that’s where I am as an entrepreneur and leader within my businesses and that the privilege I have is to teach others medicine. Love it.

If you could do it all over again would you? Absolutely in a heartbeat.

8. Do you think PA’s are adequately educated about how to be a leader? If not do you have any recommendations on what topics should be taught?

Absolutely. PA’s are not taught to be leaders and as I teach young students and I kind of say to them, you will be a leader. You will set the bar for acceptable behavior to patient care. I get starry looks and I don’t think its talked about much. So, do I have any recommendations on what topics should be taught? Absolutely. It should be emotional intelligence. Students need to understand emotional intelligence and really what is emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence has four components to it. It has to do with self-awareness and self-mastery. And then it has to do with social awareness and social mastery. So those four components, that needs to be taught. How to be politically correct with nursing staff, and consultants and patients, and how to manage yourself. That’s the key principle leaders, PA’s should be taught.

9. Do you have any suggestions for newly graduate PA’s who are interested in becoming leaders within their community?

Well first off the question that Steven Covey asked, are leaders born or bred. That’s the question. And Steven Covey says that’s a flawed question because you’re determining your leadership based on something else he says leaders are in that position by choice. Its a choice. You choose to be a leader. And PA’s need to know they will be leaders and that’s an important paradigm that have to choose to accept that role. Again the nursing staff, ancillary staff will look at a PA as what’s acceptable behavior and we have to be careful about not being swayed by toxic personalities who may make you act not as a leader, not as someone who’s got character integrity. I preach that it does not take character to treat the soccer mom well, that doesn’t take anything. Can you treat intoxicated, homeless, smelly patient with respect and character and that’s where true leadership comes from is living and understanding that medicine isn’t about you. Its always gonna be about your patients. Its always gonna be how do you care for others? Its never gonna be about you, and anybody who thinks that way is gonna suffer as a PA and be very limited in how they provide care.

A big thank you to John for his quick email responses and willingness to be a part of our Q&A Series. Below you will find a list of his businesses, let him know you were sent by EmpoweredPAs.com.






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Physician Assistant, Owner and Blogger at EmpoweredPAs.com. Currently practicing in a Pediatric Emergency Department, overseeing and developing evidence-based clinical practice guidelines with teams of amazing people, supporting and mentoring Pre-PA and PA Students, with a hope to advance our profession and give PAs the tools and resouces they need to advance their careers.